The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis are set to legally challenge the eligibility of the Leader of the Opposition and former Prime Minster the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas after claims he is the holder of a diplomatic passport of another country.
According to Prime Minister the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris the investigation into Dr. Douglas’ second passport has revealed that the Leader of the Opposition has a Diplomatic Passport DP0000462 issued by the government of Dominica on the July 30, 2015 and bearing the expiry date February 29, 2020.
“The said passport has listed his nationality as Dominican,” Dr. Harris indicated adding that the former Prime Minister was not a passive holder of that diplomatic passport and has used it on several of his foreign trips.
“In keeping with its pledge to the Federation, the Government continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding the issuance of a diplomatic Dominican Passport to the Leader of the Opposition, and the potential consequences for both the federal interest of St. Kitts and Nevis and the best interest of the people of our beloved Federation.”
Dr. Harris further explained that the qualifications required of those elected to sit in the National Assembly are constitutionally defined and are intended to prevent any actual or perceived conflicts of interest arising from split allegiances.
“This provision is intended to protect the people as electors and the country from a person who may be in service to two masters…no one can serve two masters for either he will hate one and love the other or else he will hold on to the one and despise the other. I have deduced there is a prevailing view that Dr. Denzil Douglas is a conflicted being.”
He disclosed that the Government have sought a legal opinion on the results of the investigation so far in pursuit of the public’s interest.
“Some legal considerations are germane to the public discussion and we will try to help that public discussion in an informed way.”
The Prime Minister then referred to the Constitution, highlighting what it states regarding the issue.
“I want to refer to section 28 of the Constitution. That section provides that a person shall not be qualified to be elected as a representative of the national assembly if he or she (a) is, by virtue of his or her own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.
“This constitutionally entrenched qualification has been further qualified by the National Assembly’s Act.”
PM Harris then reminded of the legislation passed by the Douglas Administration in 2009 that also is against the allegiance of a foreign state or power.
“In 2009, the said Dr. Douglas had twice amended the National Assembly’s Election Act to prevent the nomination and election to parliament of persons in allegiance, obedience and adherence to another state or power.
“So serious did Dr. Douglas pursue the matter that he passed the National Assembly Election’s Amendment Act 2009. He went back again to ensure he achieve his aim he further clarified it by ACT 17 of 2009 entitled ‘National Assembly Election’s Amendment Act N0. 2 of 2009’.
“It is tragic that the said Dr. Douglas who led the fight against others could now entangle himself in issues of eligibility to serve in the people’s parliament.”
He further intimated that the qualification of representatives in the National Assembly is not to be taken lightly, since the national assembly is a medium where elected members represent constituent views and discuss national issues.
“The questions to be asked is this, is the national assembly now been tainted by the Leader of the Opposition who is a holder of a Dominican Diplomatic Passpot? There is a serious legal question as to whether or not the Leader of the Opposition is qualified to be a representative of the National Assembly.
“In my view the people of St. Kitts and Nevis deserves better from their elected leaders. They deserve to have their views represented and they deserve a parliament that works indisputably and resolutely to advance the interest of the Federation and the Federation alone.”
Dr. Harris then revealed that the government is set to challenge the former Prime Ministers eligibility to serve in the Parliament in light of the new revalation
“In order to protect the interest of this great Federation and its loyal people, the government is in the process of finalizing application in the High Court seeking declarations that the leader of the Opposition is no longer eligible to continue sitting as a representative in the National Assembly and that he should accordingly be required to vacate his seat.”
He also indicated that the matter had been brought to the attention of the Speaker of the National Assembly the Hon. Michael Perkins.
“Given the importance of this to our democracy, our country, our people and its Parliament. I want to commend the Leader of Government Business (the Hon. Eugene Hamilton) for bringing this to the attention of the Hon. Speaker of the National Assembly.
“Loyalty clearly is critical to those who serve our nation. Disloyalty to our country by any public official is a matter that must be condemned.”
He also reiterated that he does not hold any passport of any other state that made rounds in the media late last week and resulted in one media house in Dominica apologizing to him for publishing a malicious article stating that Dr. Harris holds a Dominican Diplomatic Passport.
“I reaffirm I hold no other passport than those properly issued to me by the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis and I never have and never will hold allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign state or power. I am too much in love with the people and country of St. Kitts and Nevis to have it otherwise.”
Since the issue came to light earlier this month Dr. Douglas had vehemently having dual citizenship and told The Observer that the investigation is as an attempted distraction by the Harris Administration to turn the public’s attention from the new CBI initiative.
“I have been a member of parliament since 1989, I have served as prime minister for nearly 20 years and I’m currently the leader of the SKN Labour party and the leader of the parliamentary opposition,” Douglas said. “I hold citizenship to no other country other than my own St. Kitts and Nevis. I’ve never held for another country, and I do not intend in the future to do so. I do not hold dual citizenship.”
There was also some contention on the difference between holding a diplomatic passport to another country and being deemed a citizen of another country
“I have been informed and advised legally that holding a diplomatic passport does not in any way provide you with citizenship, especially when you have never applied for citizenship of that country.” Douglas said.